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On the Basis of Sex  (DVD)


Stars: Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Sam Waterston, Cailee Spaeny, Jack Reynor, Kathy Bates, Chris Mulkey, Wendy Crewson

Director: Mimi Leder

Let's be clear: this film is not about sex the act, but about sex the discriminatory factor. It's what holds young Ruth Bader Ginsberg (Jones) back after she qualifies with top grades from Harvard and Columbia law schools in the late 1950s, but still cannot find a job with a male-dominated law firm.

She's eventually forced to accept a professorship teaching law.
But then the whip-smart Ginsberg, who has spent her life fighting gender discrimination, is offered a groundbreaking case, when a middle-aged man (Mulkey) is refused a carer's allowance for looking after his sick mother.

Ruth senses a chance, although much against the odds, to alter the course of history. 'We're only asking you,' she tells the judge (Gary Werntz), 'to protect the right of the country to change.'

I quite enjoyed this film but, given an impassioned leading lady in Jones and an eye-catching supporting turn from Theroux, as a fellow-lawyer and friendly doubter, it doesn't quite reach the top level of legal dramas. Leder's uninspired direction lacks dynamism, persuasiveness and fluency, and her camera angles are not conducive to drawing the required emotional response from her audience. And no - I didn't say a man would have been better!

David Quinlan

USA 2018. UK Distributor: entertainmentOne. Colour by Deluxe/FotoKem.
115 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 25 Jun 2019